Exams 
[May. 10th, 200909:57 pm]

Yay!
Yesterday I finished my quantum field theory final exam. It was a weeklong take home exam. Our professor had warned us that the exam was going to be challenging, and that it would take all week, so I had braced myself for the worst. In the end, I worked on it for 30 hours, and will be turning in 50 pages of work. But its done! Yay!
I feel like finals are over now, even though they haven't even started. I'm definitely being extremely lethargic and inefficient. But at least I'm done with quantum field theory  never have to take an exam for that again! 


EFF Offers Awards for Large Composite Numbers 
[Apr. 1st, 200908:34 pm]

Inspired by the attention its Cooperative Computing Awards has brought to the power of collaboration to solve difficult mathematics problems, EFF today announced a new award. EFF will offer three increasing rewards of $6, $8, and $12 to the persons or team who, working collaboratively, can discover a worldrecord composite number.
Composite numbers are those which are divisible by some whole number other than themselves and one. Familiar examples include 8, 100, 525, and 4294967296. Notably, all even numbers greater than 2 are composite. Composite numbers have important applications in engineering, scientific research and even finance, where they are often used to measure enormously large values with a high degree of precision. Composite numbers are surprisingly common—indeed, most numbers are composite—but naming extremely large composite numbers can become a daunting task.
However, throughout human history, the largest known composite number has consistently been larger than the largest known prime number. Indeed, this trend is likely to continue. The world’s largest known primes have for some time been Mersenne primes; but to every Mersenne number 2^p1 where p is a prime, there corresponds a larger composite number 2^p1+1.
In 2007, two philosophers competed in an event under the auspices of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to see who could name the largest number using only an ordinary chalkboard. The winning number, found by Prof. Adam N. Elga, was almost certainly composite.
“Huge composite numbers are all around us, but very few people have ever even tried to name a number larger than a googol,” said EFF Staff Technologist Seth Schoen. “Hopefully this contest will remedy that and maybe even set a few records in the process.”
A proof attributed to the Greek mathematician Euclid shows that there is no largest composite number. Euclid suggests multiplying all known whole numbers together and then failing to add one. The result will be divisible by “lots of stuff,” and hence composite.
EFF’s new awards program was established with funds found under a couch cushion one day here at the EFF office. Prospective claimants will—as with EFF’s Cooperative Computing Awards—need to publish their results in a peerreviewed scientific journal, including rigorous proof that the numbers they are claiming are not prime. The proof must also show that a claimed composite number is larger than Prof. Elga’s 2007 record. EFF also reserves the right to require that claimants explicitly identity at least one specific divisor of a claimed composite number. 


Black Holes 
[Mar. 29th, 200909:41 pm]

For my General Relativity homework, I need to calculate at what radius you would be torn apart by the pull of gravity if you were falling into a black hole. This depends heavily on your orientation as you fall into the black hole. I decided to assume that you would be falling with your body perpendicular to the radial direction. I debated if I should specify this condition as "rhat=asshat". (I eventually decided against it) 


Mathematicians vs. Physicists 
[Sep. 29th, 200808:20 pm]

"I was asked to write some advice for young mathematicians. My first observation is that each mathematician is a special case, and in general mathematicians tend to behave like “fermions,” i.e., they avoid working in areas that are too trendy, whereas physicists behave a lot more like “bosons,” which coalesce in large packs, often “overselling” their achievements—an attitude that mathematicians despise."
Alain Connes 


CMB 
[Aug. 12th, 200808:33 pm]

Take a look at this alternate CMB. Can you do the Fourier transform in your head?? 


LHC rap 
[Jul. 31st, 200809:52 am]

Another instance of being torn between embarrassed and proud... Enjoy! 


Classy 
[Jun. 8th, 200808:45 pm]

I'm unsure if I should be embarrassed or amazed by this video. I'm currently voting for amazed at its awesomeness. 


2008, I guess 
[Jan. 1st, 200808:13 pm]

So all the cool kids seem to be making some random post containing some subset of things about 2007 and things about 2008. In my desire to be a poser cool kid, I will thus conform.
2007: I only really remember well what I did in the past month or so. Finals were fun, since I didn't do stuff in relation to finals much, but instead did stuff in relation to hanging out with kids. Before that, I completed somewhat nontrivial research and pretended I learned things  both a success. Before that, things get kinda fuzzy. I vaguely remember spending the summer at Cornell, and thinking that it was a good time, and that I want to do something similar in this coming summer. I also remember thinking that I came up with interesting physics while I was there, but now as I look through my notes, I can't think of why I ever thought that. Weird. According to my transcript, I was at UW in the spring, but I don't remember this at all. Probably nothing important happened then.
2008: I assume my memory a year from now will be just as incomplete, if not even more so than it is now. In such light, I hope spring semester will be more memorable than last year's. I'm thinking the summer should be good  I think I might be working with some people at University of Michigan, hopefully on something retrospectively less trivial. Soon I will be halfway done with college, which is kind of weird. Another highlight is that Jia will be turning 21, so hopefully I will be able to coax her to buy me lots of random alcoholic beverages. We'll see how that one goes. Also more immediately, I'm about to embark on a week long trip to CA, which will doubtlessly be rather amusing.
Happy 2008! 


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